During a recent trip to Paris, Foreign Correspondent Cooder got in touch with her roots and found there is more to the French capital than perpetual strikes, overpriced l’Occitane products and twee Macarons. To note:
La Galerie Végétale
Find strange plants like Golden Sticks and Tillandsias, commission a living , fancily-weaved wicker plant installation, or check out an exhibition on bulbs and roots at the Vegetable Gallery, a flower shop which doubles up as a gallery dedicated to nature themes. The shop is specialized in seasonal bouquets as well as exotic desert and mountain plants, and also sells things like moss-covered wooden pencils and recycled cardboard puzzles for kids. Plant-themed tea parties and workshops also rear their head every now and then.
Le Musée des Égouts de Paris
If you have ever wondered why manholes are shaped in a circle instead of a square, pondered about those legendary alligators, or wanted to get to the real heart, or bowels, of the city, then try not to miss the Le Musée des Égouts de Paris. Nothing eco-friendly and sustainably packaged here, but oodles of interesting information on the history of drainage, how water is recycled, and how much of it we use. Plus there’s stuffed rats, old-school dioramas, antique mechanism which I’m pretty sure inspired the Indiana Jones/Temple of Doom giant boulder scene, and of course that wonderful smell…
Of course capitalist commerce is still alive and well, and there are plenty of places in Paris where you can burn your money like no one’s looking. In the spirit of keeping it eco-friendly:
Don’t be scared by Mister Chicken’s claim to make “Original Chicken Clothes”, what you will find here are t-shirts and sweatshirt, in organic cotton and neon colours, made for humans and their offspring. The Monsieur Poulet crew runs a weekly design & illustration competition in which t-shirt designs are provided by aspiring artists – Le Winner gets his art printed on a high quality, certified GOTS fair trade garment which is then sold in the shop, in limited edition of course. Fye shoes have recently been added to their repertoire of customizable accessories, and you can also find beach bags, canvas totes and kitchen clothes. Mega Ultra Chicken.
Quality knits made by quality Grandmas – a project which involves everything from 100% natural wool, superior manufacture skills, hip designs and keeping Granny off the gin. The brand’s site not only lets you choose the yarn, model and colour of your beanie or mittens, but the best part is that you get to choose which Grand-mere is going to knit your custom woolly item too: Maité, Catherine, Lydia… or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can let Samir choose a grandma for you (approximate age unknown, but judging from his photo I’m guessing he’s about 5 years old).
Les Filles du Facteur
The evocatively named Postman’s Daughters are an association that collect and recycle plastic bags by crocheting them into a number of items, and transforming what cannot be crocheted into yet stranger/funnier objects. All the handwork is done by a group of women in Burkina Faso, providing them with a source of revenue and enabling them to put their kids in school, grow crops and spread awareness about waste material toxicity and recycling in one fell swoop. Their shop features plenty of interesting items, like bronze peanut pendants and these creepily-named “Clonette” dolls, which, I believe, are not only made from recycled plastic, but also squeak when squeezed (and who, my friends, doesn’t love a good squeaky toy).